Charles Schwab, a Billionaire, Wishes People Wouldn’t Pick on Billionaires —Data Sheet

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Charles Schwab, the 82-year-old entrepreneur, has written a pretty darn good book about his career. It’s called Invested: Changing Forever the Way Americans Invest. Robert Hackett covered some of its highlights in Fortune.

The book traces Schwab’s not-as-humble-as-he’d-have-you-believe origins through all of his company’s major milestones. Schwab’s father was a district attorney in rural California and later a lawyer in private practice in Santa Barbara, where the future billionaire first took up golf, a not insignificant event in his life. His first wife’s father helped him get into business school at Stanford; his second father-in-law was an oil-and-gas man who helped him get going.

A passionate investor and young financial analyst, Schwab understood that the high commissions Wall Street brokerages charged clients was an opportunity. He also repeatedly grasped the importance of technology, spending lavishly to equity his young discount brokerage and later by embracing the Internet.

Schwab’s shrewdness come through repeatedly. At his core, he is a marketer. Early on he understood the importance of public relations. It is fair to read the book, his seventh, as another in a long line of Schwab marketing activities. He failed as a young insurance salesman to sell even one policy, and he prudently frowns on most of what the insurance industry thrusts on its customers. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t feel the same way about stock trading, a sucker’s proposition for nearly everyone who does it, excluding, of course, brokerages.

I interviewed Schwab this week at an event in San Francisco. He professed his love of index funds but suggested the “fun” of trading stocks is important to encourage young people to invest. Gambling is fun too, of course. And though Schwab has devoted some energy to promoting financial literacy, it’s painfully obvious he and his cohort haven’t made a dent.

Prompted by written questions from an admiring audience, I asked Schwab twice for his views on income inequality and the role investing could play in alleviating it. The lifelong Republican either didn’t understand the concept or wouldn’t contemplate it: He said he wished people wouldn’t pick on billionaires.

Charles Schwab upended an industry, created an enduring company, and made himself fabulously wealthy. He undoubtedly was part of a trend that changed the way Americans invest. Common sense suggests way more change is needed.

Adam Lashinsky

On Twitter: @adamlashinsky


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.


I like the way you move. Attention Google search users and fans of Boolean logic: Google has changed its search algorithms to pay attention to word order and take into account smaller words like prepositions and articles in a query—words that it previously ignored.

So click-it or ticket. Turning up the pressure on short video app TikTok, two U.S. senators demanded an investigation of the Chinese-owned service. “TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to the White House's acting director of national intelligence. TikTok said it would not remove content at the behest of China and its moderating team was based in the United States.

Make it sound like aluminum cans in a bag. One of the lawyers at Apple responsible for preventing insider trading was caught...insider trading. Senior director of corporate law Gene Levoff was indicted on Thursday for placing stock trades ahead of Apple's own financial results from 2011 to 2016. Levoff's lawyer denied any wrongdoing by his client.

I love the way you move. The hot-looking electric SUV from Ford got an official debut date: November 17. Code-named Mach 1, the vehicle's design is inspired by Ford's Mustang line of muscle cars.

No discrimination here, squirrel. Some unicorns are cutting back amid the rising scrutiny of investors on profitability. Car sharing site will cut 40% of its workforce and process automation software developer UiPath laid off as many as 400 of its 3,000 employees.

Give them something to remember. On Wall Street, beloved Amazon sorely disappointed while abandoned Intel finally got some love. Amazon's shipping expenses jumped 46% to almost $10 billion, which knocked profits harder than analysts expected. Its stock price, previously up 19%, lost 6% in premarket trading on Friday. Intel, meanwhile, saw stronger than expected server chip sales, pushing revenue up 6% to $19 billion, ahead of expectations. Its stock, up 11% in 2019, jumped 4% on Friday morning.

(Headline reference explainer video to get you bopping on a Friday.)


A few longer reads that I came across this week that may be appealing for your weekend reading pleasure:

'One Grotesque Irony After Another': Inside the Rise and Fall of Gawker 2.0 (Esquire)

Last year, Bryan Goldberg revealed big plans for his relaunch of Gawker, then postponed it indefinitely while laying off the whole staff. Now, there's serious talk of reviving it yet again. Here's what happened behind the scenes.

Inside the Phone Company Secretly Run By Drug Traffickers (Motherboard)

Crime blogger Martin Kok was assassinated while leaving a sex club. It turned out MPC, one of his clients, was not an ordinary phone company.

Astrology in the Age of Uncertainty (New Yorker)

Millennials who see no contradiction between using astrology and believing in science are fueling a resurgence of the practice.

The Six-Decade Odyssey of Kurt Cobain’s ‘Unplugged’ Cardigan (Rolling Stone)

The long journey of the $137,500 sweater worn by Nirvana’s frontman.


Perhaps this will be the last big take in Data Sheet on the company formerly known as WeWork, but probably not. A tag team of four Wall Street Journal reporters has written yet another behind-the-scenes tale of the company's fall from grace including even more crazy, wacky, bananas anecdotes about former CEO Adam Neumann. For example:

Back in New York, Mr. Neumann spent much of the summer working on the document, known as an S-1, in the Hamptons, regularly helicoptering employees out from the city to help. His wife, Rebekah Neumann, WeWork’s chief brand officer, insisted it be printed on recycled paper, then rejected early printings as low-quality, according to people familiar with the matter. The process was set back by days and the printing shop originally hired for the job refused to work with the company. WeWork gave part of the job to a small New York paper company that rents space in one of its offices.


What Ben Horowitz Learned About Creating Corporate Culture By Andrew Nusca

Google Pixelbook Go Review: A Sweet Laptop That’s a Little Bit Fuzzy on the Eyes By Aaron Pressman

Twitter Says A.I. Is Now Removing Over Half of Its Abusive Tweets Before They’re Flagged By Alyssa Newcomb

Tesla’s First China-Built Model 3 Goes on Sale Today, But Local Customers Won’t Save Much By Eamon Barrett

Another Wrinkle Emerges in the WeWork Saga By Erik Sherman

For China’s Social Media Giants, It’s a Battle for the Ages By Naomi Xu Elegant


I don't know if it's equipped to take slo'fies, but the Curiosity rover on Mars is an expert selfie taker. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted a super-high-resolution image on Thursday made by combining 57 smaller pictures snapped by Curiosity as it analyzed some rocks on the red planet. Maybe we'll have to send the rover an iPhone 11 Pro for Christmas?

Aaron Pressman

On Twitter: @ampressman


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